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Who We Are
HISTORY OF ST. MICHAEL'S CHURCH
Van Buren, Arkansas
The parish can trace its roots back to 1845 when Colonel John Drennen gave six acres for "an institution of the sisters" and to 1851 when Mass was first said in the home of Michael Lynch. During the early years, Mass was said periodically by priests of the area. Through the years it has been served by diocesan priests, Benedictine monks, also serving as chaplains at St. Scholastica Convent, and Jesuits. Among early priests mentioned are Fr. Michael Smythe and Fr. P. Horan. The first resident priest was Rev. J. P. Maurel.
After the Civil War, Van Buren Catholics began to consider building a church. Erection of the first frame church at 6th and Broad Street (now Broadway) was accomplished through efforts of Michael Lynch and Pat May. The first church was dedicated on May 16, 1872, with Bishop Edward Fierald giving the homily. In February 1907, the original church was destroyed by fire, and the rectory was damaged. Efforts were begun to replace the church with ladies of the Parish having an ice cream social on July 1, 1908, to raise money for the building fund.
The Drennen property was sold in 1909, and the lot at 13th and Cherry was purchased. A dwelling on the property served as a temporary church from 1909 to 1912. Construction of the church at 13th and Cherry began in 1912 under supervision of John Khone and John O'Kane. The cornerstone was laid on October 22, 1912. Inside were found copies of the Southwest American of October 22, 1912, The Press Argus of October 21, 1912, the Catholic Tribune of October 17, 1912, and the Southern Guardian. A letter in the cornerstone said:
'This Corner Stone, of St. Michael's Catholic Church, was placed in position by the bricklayers, in silence and without religious ceremony".
It was done in this manner since Bishop John Morris did not want a special ceremony until the dedication. The letter continues to say that Rev. Charles C. Truemper was the first resident priest since the fire and that the church was to the honor of St. Michael Archangel and:
"..was erected..wtth the assistance of Mr. John O'Kane Druggist; Mr. John Kohne, Groceries, and D. C. Brodie, Harnessmaker. "
The church was dedicated on May 14, 1913, by Bishop Morris. The high Altar was built by Fr. Truemper. Others donating articles for the church were Miss Nettie Doerr, Mrs. Mary Lincke, a sister of Fr. Michael Norton, Mrs. Margaret Hummell, Mr. & Mrs. Frank Mayloux, Mrs. Maiffee Thompson, and Elizabeth A. and John Doyle. Sue O'Kane gave the first organ, and Regina Burns was the first organist.
A new two-story rectory was begun in 1949 at a cost of$10,000. Rev. Joseph N. Dole was the first pastor to reside in the new rectory blessed by Bishop Albert Fletcher while in Van Buren for confirmation on April 4, 1950. In June 1974, this rectory burned while Rev. William E. Kane was pastor. The present rectory at 1412 North 11th Street was acquired in 1976 by Rev. John F. IDavacek, pastor at the time. Fr. IDavacek also bought the land for the new church on Pointer Trail.
Actual construction of the new church was initiated in 1982 during the pastorate of Fr. John Choppesky, with the dedication of the new St. Michael's Church at the intersection of 11th Street and Pointer Trail on March 20, 1983. The brick veneer building sits on six and one-half acres just northwest of where North 11th Street connects with Pointer Trail. It seats 380 people and includes a parish hall for social events and educational classes. The front side areas were paved for parking. The bell from the old church was hung in the bell tower. Stations of the Cross were donated by the Sisters of Mercy. In 1992 a Family Life Center was added at the back of the church. A Structural Steel structure, it houses a gymnasium with a basketball court and classrooms to house the CCD program for children from Kindergarten through the 8th grade, and a small kitchen.
St Philomena's Academy operated by the Sisters of Mercy on Broadway opened in the fall of 1897 but operated only a few years. The school had more than 80 students in 1898 and occupied John Ogden Mansion. All faiths were received.
There is evidence of interest in a parochial school at Later dates. In 1907, correspondence with Bishop Morris concerns possible construction of a hall for school and church. The Benedictines either operated a school around 1908 or constructed such since there is correspondence between Bishop Morris and Mother Agatha, O.S.B., of Shoal Creek about the matter. Mary Jeanetta Hodges made St. Michael's beneficiary of her will, and Rev. James G. Evans in a history of the parish noted the need for a school with the hope that the Hodges will would be of help in building a school in Van Buren. At that time Catholic training of children attending public school was given by Sisters of St. Benedict from St. Scholastica Convent each Saturday morning.
St. Michael Catholic Church
1025 East Pointer Trail
Van Buren, AR 72956
Phone: (479) 471-1211
Fax: (479) 471-1219
Office Hours/Horario de Oficina:
Monday/Lunes: - Thursday/Jueves:
8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Lunch Time/ Comida: 12:00 p.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Friday/Viernes: 8 a.m. - Noon/Mediodia
Weekend masses / Misas de Sábado y Domingo
Saturday (Sábado) *8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Sunday (Domingo): 8:00 a.m. (Español) 10:00 a.m. (English), and 11:45 a.m. (Español)